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Bipolar Disorder

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition where an individual can experience intense emotional states such as feeling really high, euphoric, or manic and depressive lows.

While everyone can experience mood fluctuations, for people with bipolar disorder, these moods tend to be more intense and can last days, and at times, weeks. During these changes in mood, the person may behave in ways that are different to usual and may have difficulty with daily routines and social interactions. 

Genetics play a large role in the development of bipolar disorder with 80-90% of individuals with bipolar disorder having family members with similar conditions. The average age of onset is 25 years old. 

Diagnoses of Bipolar Disorder

There are three diagnoses of bipolar disorder: bipolar I, bipolar II and cyclothymic disorder. 

  • Bipolar I disorder is diagnosed when a person has experienced a manic episode.
  • Bipolar II disorder is diagnosed when a person experiences a pattern of depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes.
  • Cyclothymia is a rare mood disorder that causes emotional ups and downs but is not as extreme as bipolar I or II. 

Manic Episode

Manic episode: A manic episode is a state where you have abnormally elevated changes in your mood, emotions, energy level or activity level. 

  • Decreased need for sleep (e.g., feeling energetic despite significantly less sleep than usual). 
  • Increased or faster speech 
  • Uncontrollable racing thoughts and quickly changing ideas or topics when speaking. 
  • Distractability. 
  • Increased activity (e.g., restlessness, agitation, working on several projects at once). 
  • Increase risky behaviour (e.g., reckless driving, spending sprees). 

 Some people experiencing manic episodes also experience disorganised thinking, false beliefs and/or hallucinations known as psychotic features

Hypomanic Episode

Hypomanic episode: Typically lasts for a few days and is a milder form of mania. 

Depressive Episode

Depressive episode: A depressive episode is the experience of low mood for most of the day, nearly every day for at least 2 weeks.

Symptoms include: 

  • Poor concentration.
  • Feelings of excessive guilt or low self-worth.
  • Hopelessness about the future.
  • Thoughts about dying or suicide.
  • Disrupted sleep. 
  • Changes in appetite or weight, 
  • Feeling very tired or low in energy. 

Effective Treatment for Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition. Treatment is primarily directed at managing symptoms.

Think you might have bipolar disorder? At Monarch Mental Health Group, we can help you find the right treatment plan.